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The Last Stand: the TG.com review
Before the self-appointed Knights of The Internet (2nd Battalion Pedantry) swarm our servers in their droves to log their queries, a note: we’re reviewing this film because the entire premise is based around a Chevrolet Corvette ZR1.
Here at Top Gear, we’re rather fond of the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. It’s loud. It’s made of plastic and it’s indecently fast. We’re not at all reviewing this film because it marks the return of one of the finest purveyors of action one-liners in history; a man once so ensconced within the top tier of action movies, he was the Action Movie, and who remains one of the most recognisable faces on Planet Earth. No sir. But now that we’ve mentioned him…
Yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger is Back. Despite a couple of cameos in fellow 80s/90s action stalwart Sly Stallone’s The Expendables, Arnie hasn’t actually been the lead star in a film since, well, 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Ten years is a few lifetimes in Hollywood, especially when you’ve done a bit of real life governing of California in the interim.
So when the Austrian man-mountain first hulks into shot in The Last Stand as Sheriff Ray Owens - the same man-mountain that graced Terminator, Total Recall, Commando, Predator, Terminator 2, The Running Man (you get the picture) - you almost feel like clapping. He’s aged, but carries the same elephantine grace he always has. And there’s no denying that few in cinema can deliver a pun-laden or cheesy one-liner like Arnie can. There were many, many genuine laugh-out-loud moments in The Last Stand.
And it’s all played out like a lot of fun. Sure, the premise is as old as Arnie himself: war-weary Sheriff retires to sleepy border town and is suddenly thrust back into the thick of things. It’s Ray’s day off (we all know how criminals coordinate their escapes on Schwarzenegger’s weekends), and the premise has an über-menacing drugs baron escape from the FBI, steal a very powerful Corvette “Zee Arr One” and race down towards the Mexican border and into freedom. Only problem is he has to go through Ray-patrolled Sommerton - and a world of pain.
It’s here we see the Sheriff haul together a rag-tag group of crime fighters to take down the baddie, and it’s here we get to see him play off the eminently watchable Johnny Knoxville as Lewis Dinkum. Ray’s staunch, upright Man of the Law plays nicely against Dinkum’s slightly aloof, deranged comic relief. Plus, Dinkum’s kind of into his guns, and the director has very assiduously put Schwarzenegger at the helm of some terrifying weaponry…
So that “Zee Arr One”. In the film, the ‘Vette is modified to the tune of 1,000bhp - believable, if you consider Hennessey’s trials with the Venom GT. Sadly, some of the highway chase scenes reckon a plastic supercar with 1,000bhp is capable of disabling a pair of Cadillac SUVs at 160mph by weaving through them, spinning 180 degrees, and then spear underneath them both. Hmmm. There seems to be some Top Gear maths at work here. Many inexplicable gearshifts happen, each with the same head-snapping venom and each capable of taking the ‘Vette to 180mph. Even if it’s already there. It sits at odds with the Mexican stand-off vibe you get when Arnie’s on screen.
And to be fair, that’s what this film is actually about: Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s predictable, sure, but it’s actually a bit of a laugh, combining quite eye-popping gore (we’re talking heads blown clean off and blood liberally splattered) and Arnie’s on-screen charisma.
Watching ‘The Governator’ shuffle around delivering his lines - classics like “welcome to Sommerton” and “much obliged” (following a hilarious baddie offing), those of a certain vintage will feel a warm glow inside. The Grand Theft Auto generation might not get it, but for those who grew up watching Arnie at his best, it’s a nice reminder of what once was. Plus, of course, proof of TG’s oft-quoted maxim: baddies always drive a Corvette.